Brexiteer jailed for egging Jeremy Corbyn

A Brexit supporter who yelled “respect the vote” as he struck Jeremy Corbyn while clutching an egg has been jailed for 28 days.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The Labour leader has been forced to review his security after the attack in his constituency by John Murphy, which came less than a week after his party announced it would support a second referendum on EU membership.

The assault on 3 March came amid heightened tensions over Brexit, with Remain-supporting politicians telling how they have received death threats and MPs being warned about their safety.

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Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot acknowledged the “current climate” as she jailed remorseless Murphy, 31, from Barnet in north-west London, for 28 days after he admitted a charge of assault by beating.

She told Westminster Magistrates’ Court: “An attack like this is an attack on our democratic process.”

Ms Arbuthnot had warned she wanted to send the message that “attacks on our MPs must stop”. She noted Mr Corbyn had been forced to review his security, which could hinder his ability to meet voters.

Mr Corbyn, in a statement read to Westminster Magistrates’ Court, said he was “shocked and surprised” by the egging.

“I feel these kind of attacks drive a wedge between elected representatives and those who elect them in the first place,” he said.

“We are now reviewing and increasing my security protection.”

Mr Corbyn had gone to the Muslim Welfare Centre with shadow home secretary Diane Abbott after visiting north London’s Finsbury Park mosque, which was the site of the terror attack by far-right extremist Darren Osborne.

Prosecutor Kevin Christie told the court Mr Corbyn took off his shoes and sat down next to his wife Laura Alvarez and a group of people who seemed to be “in great spirits”.

“Suddenly, he felt a strike to the right side of his forehead and then realised someone had reached over his right shoulder and struck him,” Mr Christie said.

“As he was struck he heard a male voice shouting ‘respect the vote’.”

Mr Corbyn, after washing the egg off to reveal a red mark on his head, witnessed a “very aggressive” Murphy being restrained while his face was “contorted” with rage.

Murphy, of Barnet in north-west London, continued to yell the slogan as he was held.

The Labour leader said in the victim impact statement that he was “determined” to continue to interact with the public, but accepted he must now “be more cautious”.

Labour declined to comment on the increased security measures.

In recent days, independent MP Anna Soubry said she was targeted by “very, very serious” death threats. Labour’s Lloyd Russell-Moyle said a man shouting “traitors” grappled with him in an attempted assault.

MPs have also been warned by Commons Deputy Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle to travel by taxi or with colleagues because of the hostile climate.

Prime Minister Theresa May has faced heavy criticism from MPs, who accused her of whipping up tensions and putting them at risk of physical attack after she blamed them for delaying Brexit in a Downing Street speech.

Ms Arbuthnot told the court she is considering a short prison sentence for Murphy, who had been equipped with four further eggs.

“This is a public servant and attacks on MPs must stop. The message must go out - this must stop,” she said.

Malik Aldeiri, defending, said Mr Corbyn’s statement was “slightly over egged in the sense that Mr Corbyn himself hasn’t suffered any impact”, with the main concerns being from his family.

Murphy, of Totteridge Common in Whetstone, was bailed until later in the day when he may be sentenced.